May 17 2019

5 Ways an Attorney Can Help Get Customers to Pay


To run a successful business of any size, you must get paid by customers. But many managers and owners of small businesses are either too busy or too inexperienced to do what is necessary to ensure that customers pay their invoices in a timely manner.

One often-untapped resource for small businesses with delinquent accounts receivable is a business attorney. How can a lawyer help you get paid? Take a look at five ways.

1. Lawyers Create Good Contracts

The best way to help ensure that you have fewer payment issues is to enter into legal, binding, and clear contracts. Have your contracts been reviewed by a business attorney? If not, then this is a good time to make sure that all contracts follow the law and use language that is enforceable if you end up in front of a judge.

Along with contract consultation, have a lawyer review your practices for doing background checks on future customers, assess the effectiveness of your credit applications, and help you create standard practices for handling overdue bills. 

2. Lawyers Write Better Correspondence

Delinquent clients often simply shrug off a mailed notice for payment. But a proper letter from a company's attorney has a different effect. Simply the sight of a lawyer's stationary often makes a slow-paying customer much more likely to accelerate your payment above others who haven't involved an attorney.

Because the attorney is an objective third party, the wording they use in letters and phone calls is often less emotionally driven and therefore more likely to avoid unnecessary escalation of a legitimate payment dispute. 

3. Lawyers Understand Your Options

Another reason to hire an experienced business attorney is because they have been through the entire collections process many times. They know which methods work the best because they've seen it happen personally. They also know which steps are legal and which methods could get your company into trouble with government agencies or the courts.

Do your Accounts Receivable employees know what to do if a check is marked "payment in full" on the back? Do they know how to investigate the financial situation of a customer who isn't paying? And do they know what to do immediately when notified of a client bankruptcy filing? If not, then these are areas where a collections attorney can help. 

4. Lawyers Can Begin Legal Proceedings

If notices and negotiations fail to produce payment, you may have to use the legal system to sue for money owed. If you haven't worked with a business attorney about this case already, then retain one to help you have the most successful claim possible — especially if the case doesn't qualify for small-claims court or the client is in a different state. 

5. Lawyers Do Follow Up for Payment

Anyone who has won a judgement in court knows that this victory is only one step toward actually securing funds. The next step is to collect on the judgement — a whole other legal proceeding.

Your attorney will aid in assessing a customer's ability to pay as well as utilizing assets or corporate partnership you may not know how to tap. They may be able to help with recovering the asset you sold to the customer. And they can help you get priority claim if the customer files for bankruptcy.

At Wolfe, Jones, Wolfe, Hancock, Daniel & South LLC , we provide high-quality and experienced debt collection services at all stages of the debt's delinquency. No matter whether you want to be proactive or if you are dealing with a debt that is long overdue, contact our team for help.

5 Ways an Attorney Can Help Get Customers to Pay